A 15-year-old boy was shot and killed while apparently attempting to rob a fireworks stand on the Fourth of July.
According to the Tulsa World, the stand's operator, Johnny Mize Sr., and his son, Johnny Mize Jr., came upon two people loading their fireworks into a truck. Instead of dropping the fireworks and fleeing upon being caught, the elder Mize said, the suspects fired a shot. The younger Mize returned fire.
Mize Sr. said that he tried to jump in the vehicle to retrieve the $1200 worth of stolen fireworks, but was thrown to the ground. He said his son was able to jump into the fleeing vehicle, and he shot out a tire to try to disable the truck.
Later, the truck was found abandoned with 15-year-old Jake Ulrich slumped over inside the vehicle. Responding police performed CPR on the injured boy, but he died.
Witnesses reported seeing a sedan in the area where the pickup was abandoned, but it was later determined that the sedan was there to pick up the younger Mize and retrieve the stolen fireworks.
Police interviewed Mize Jr., and he was released.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office has not yet determined which charges will be filed and who will face charges for the alleged robbery and shooting.
Tulsa police believe they have identified the second person involved in the robbery as Jack Leeray Ulrich, 27. He is a relative of the deceased teen and a person of interest in the robbery and shooting death of his nephew.
Under Oklahoma law, even an accidental death is considered first degree murder if it occurs during (or as a result of) the commission of a specified felony. In fact, any person committing the felony may be charged with murder even if it is his or her own accomplice who dies and even if the deceased person was killed by another person.
In a case like this, if the older Ulrich is found to be involved in the armed robbery that led to his nephew's shooting death, then he will likely be charged with first degree murder.
It has not been determined if the younger Mize will face any charges in the teen's shooting. Under Oklahoma law, it is permissible to use lethal force in resisting violence. However, it must be determined that the person had reasonable cause to fear for his or her own safety, and that the threat of violence had not been neutralized. Shooting a fleeing robber would not likely be considered justified; however, returning fire against an armed robber likely would be considered justified.
The penalty for first degree murder in Oklahoma is life in prison or life without parole.
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